I have been operating a waste management company in India for more than a decade now, collecting residential, commercial and industrial waste much before the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was dreamed off or envisioned. Not much has changed in the last ten years when you look at the waste management sector as a whole. Despite our prime minister’s best efforts to try and change people’s mind sets and behavior towards waste generation and disposal the message has clearly not been understood by the masses, weather educated, uneducated, rich, middle class or the poor. At the crux of this massive challenge of cleaning our country is the mind set of our people, which is still feudal in nature. From residential establishments unwilling to pay a meager fee of Rupees one hundred a month per house, to industrial establishments not wanting to pay for proper disposal, the waste management sector is staring at a dismal future, but more importantly our country is in the midst’s of garbage epidemic which has already blown up in our faces and effecting each of our lives on a daily basis. The challenge is that unless it does not start affecting us financially, we do not concern ourselves with it.
Unless and until there is strict financial labilities enforced by the government on individuals and companies who do not adhere to proper waste management practices, the situation will not change on the ground level. Rampant disposal of residential waste in empty plots, drains and by the side of the roads by house help and the unorganized sector has not only choked our infrastructure it has also created an environment of acceptance for such activities. Industries and commercial establishments are more interested in monetizing their waste than in insuring that that the waste they generate is disposed of properly.
Along with the need for financial penalty, the government needs to give industry status to the waste sector. As a private player, working in the waste management sector it is an uphill battle to get permissions to collect, transport dispose and treat waste. Encouraging small and medium enterprises in the waste sector will not only help in cleaning up this mess but will give the sector much needed recognition, making it easier to raise funds, service customers and create economies of scale. The government needs to look at how it is taxing the sector too, with GST rates of twelve percent to eighteen percent being applied to the waste collection, trading and processing sector, serious thought needs to be given to the taxing structure of this sector. I not one for saying that there should be no tax or that we need tax breaks, but the rate should be conducive to encourage more people and larger companies to enter the sector, creating healthy competition and encouraging best practices by the way of technology implementation and resource recovery.
As per capita income of Indians rise, so does their lifestyle, which is increasingly consumption based putting further pressure on our crumbling infrastructure that is unable to cope with the current volumes of waste that our cities are generating let alone deal with what we have in store for us in the future.
“The most meaningful activity in which a human can be engaged is one that is directly related to human evolution. This is true because human beings now play an active and critical role not only in the process of their own evolution but in the survival and evolution of all living beings. Awareness of this places upon human beings a responsibility for their participation in and contribution to the process of evolution. If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of metabiological evolution consciously, as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age would be born.”